Ecommerce merchants have witnessed an evolution among consumers: Consumers are no longer passive. They share information about products and services via email, blogging, and now Facebook and Twitter, among other social networking sites.
Companies–particularly ad agencies–are increasingly creating social-media positions with titles such as “Social Media Director” or “Social Media Specialist.” While a smaller ecommerce firm may not be able to justify the cost of another employee, it can become more educated about what a social media expert does and then implement some of those practices.
In this edition of “Ecommerce Know-How”, I will share three roles the social media director can play and how, by incorporating those practices within your business, you can better reach the new age of consumers.
Three Social Media Roles
You’ve likely heard discussions about the perceived irrelevance of Twitter and Facebook by business owners who wouldn’t miss an opportunity to attend a chamber of commerce mixer or industry conference. Social media specialists understand that they are ambassadors of their company at a virtual mixer. In the course of these online conversations they can drop their “virtual business card” in the form of a URL, Twitter or Facebook account, or email.
Focus Group Leader
Consumers are no longer passive. Gone are the days of “we broadcast, you listen.” Social media experts invite analysis of their products and services, whether it is business-to-business or business-to-consumer. When customers feel engaged, they are more likely to become an extension of the marketing department by singing a company’s praises in their own posts or blogs.
You don’t necessarily have to start the conversation about your product. Twitter, for example, allows you to search keywords. Try searching the category, or even brand name, of the product you sell. What are others saying about the product? What works and what doesn’t? You can even take the opportunity to “follow” those who are commenting on those products and let them know when you have special sales available. Facebook also has a new search function in the works.
Customer Support Representative
Social media experts recognize that the medium presents an opportunity to improve customer relations. Customers, who might not otherwise go to the trouble of contacting a customer service department via an email or telephone, may feel more at ease expressing their complaints or asking questions in an open, online environment. This is another avenue toward creating a dialogue and, ultimately, a profitable relationship.
What a Social Media Director is Not
In order to evolve with your customers, you have to leave the traditional public relations mindset behind. You don’t release a statement. You create a dialogue. You don’t just post, you follow conversations. Listening and interacting are the keys. By applying old marketing rules to a new technological environment, merchants fail to recognize that the biggest change is not the technology itself but the expectation of the evolved consumer.